CHITRAL: The long spell of rains and snowfall in Chitral has caused decrease in the number of Siberian ducks visiting the valley.
Hunting of migratory ducks is a popular pastime among the people of Chitral and hundreds of them have developed a craze for the hunting and raised artificial ponds along the riverside to lure the birds.
The unprecedented scale of snowfall received by the valley last week and persistent inclement weather for the last one month have reportedly proved detrimental for the flight of the migratory birds from Central Asia to enter Indus flyway.
Hunters say intense cold freezes water in artificial ponds
The hunters said that water in the artificial ponds and the riverside was frozen due to intense cold. It left no place for the ducks to descend, they added.
Asmat Shah, an official of World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), confirmed that the migratory ducks from Siberia decreased in number due to the continued inclement weather, which did not support it to cross into it from Central Asia. The birds diverted their route to other directions, he added.
Mr Shah said that very few flocks of ducks could cross into the north of Chitral during the current season. There is continued snowfall in the higher altitude in Baroghil area and its adjoining localities near Tajikistan and other Central Asian Republics.
Mr Shah said that as per data available with WWF, about 1.2 million migratory birds used the Indus flyway passing through Chitral and a large number of them descended in the valley during the course of long flight. The WWF official said that a fabulous species of ducks came to Chitral in the season some of which were globally known including Siberian crane, pintail, bar-headed geese, teals and mallards.
He dispelled the impression that the species of ducks exhausted or diminished in the valley owing to overhunting. He said that the notion was not scientific as a very small fraction of the migratory birds descended in the valley. Altaf Ali Shah, sub-divisional officer of wildlife, when contacted, also confirmed declination of the number of migratory ducks in the valley and attributed it to heavy snowfall.
He said that his department was discouraging poaching of migratory ducks through its field force, deployed in all the valleys of the district.
Published in Dawn February 16th, 2017